Narratives like O’Brien’s maintain, as Rorty maintains, that our willingness to envision utopias is essential to the survival of a robust society, specifically a democratic society. But it is in highlighting the flaws of our own democracy as it is now constituted, the flaws we must overcome with utopian conjectures, that our authors face their most difficult choices. It is certainly clear that a dominant emotion in these novels is bilious rage; at one point in his Vietnam ordeal, O’Brien admits that “for all my education, all my fine liberal values, I now felt a deep coldness inside me, something dark and beyond reason.”1 Auster’s Ben Sachs focuses this anger on our national fabric: “the dominant emotion was anger, a full-blown, lacerating anger that surged upon nearly every page: anger against America, anger against political hypocrisy, anger as a weapon to destroy national myths.”2 But an adherence to the postmodern fascination with media and symbol often seems to enervate any constructive aspect of this anger.